Tuesday, May 6, 2008

St. Michaels Food and Wine Festival: Saturday

The weather held for day two of the food and wine festival. After exploring this historic town by bike and foot, I headed to a session by Laurie Forster, The Wine Coach. She led us through a blind tasting of six wines and, as is always the case, tasting blind was really revealing. Laurie, who’s originally a Jersey girl, discussed the differences between New World and Old World wines. I’m becoming far more sensitive to the amount of oak in wine, and she acknowledged that New World winemakers often have a heavier hand with oak. This led me to correctly identify all the red wines, although I admit the fruity Fruili Pinot Grigio was so flavor-packed it made me think hot climate and, therefore, New World. Laurie’s a great presenter and her perky personality made it lots of fun to figure out if the wine was European--or Everything Else.
My next class was led by Hank Wetzel of Alexander Valley Vineyards. His presentation was unfortunately less impressive. When he slammed the French as having regulations that keep them from making great wine—Tell that to Bordelaise who command hundreds of dollars a bottle—and he didn’t know that Sangiovese, a varietal he grows, is the dominant grape in Chianti—I decided to play hooky. I picked up and left his class to enjoy the end of the festival.
The tents were brimming with convivial folks, and I was ready, at long last, to put my notebook away and enjoy all the delicious wine being poured. While wandering about, I ran into a William Shepard. At last year’s festival I attended his excellent session on Burgundy and purchased Shepard’s Guide to Mastering French Wines, which was an excellent preparation for my two trips to France in 2007. It was nice to see him and his charming wife again.
As the afternoon wore on and the wine began to run out, many of us filled a last generous pour and sunk into the grass at the water’s edge. Sunlight sparkled brightly on the bay. My guy, guitar in hand, gave into requests for a song. He played a gentle tune, and, mellowed by the weather, the music, and the wine, we relaxed away the end of the fest.

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